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The Moneyist: My spouse has 125 lipsticks. Your $ 11,000 beauty invoice is the largest expense in our family – greater than automobiles and housing

My wife and I have about $ 4,000 in expenses every month. It brings in 14% of our total income while I bring in 86%. Before we got married, she lived with her wealthy parents and, in my view, there is a lack of important adult experience that she would have had if she had lived alone.

I've been employed since I was 12. When I was 12 I had three paper routes. From there, I moved on to washing dishes, cooking and delivering pizzas, and eventually using my STEM degree. I moved out of my parents' house when I was 18 and never looked back. I've budgeted, planned, and saved for over 20 years to meet my long-term financial goals.

I don't really need the money, but to help my wife get some adult experience, I suggested that she help with 14% of our expenses every month, around $ 560. I was hoping she would learn skills like budgeting, saving, and making recurring payments on the same day each month while understanding the volume of my contributions to our relationship.

Payback period for my wife

I let her pick the due date but every month when it runs around she asks to wait for another payment period because her account is empty. She asks to reduce the amount owed and complains about the portion of her income.

Every month I move the date back a week to the point where she really only contributes 9 to 10 months of the year. She's never able to pay the full $ 560, and she doesn't understand at all that the percentage of income is the same for me and that I make exactly the same contributions compared to our household.

Additionally, I am depositing $ 155 after tax directly from my paycheck into their checking account. So she's really just giving me my own money back. There were three payment periods in April that I deposited $ 465 into their checking account. She asked to contribute $ 500 late instead of $ 560, which essentially got me $ 35 for $ 4,000.

Surprise the credit card statement

In January, I came across a late credit card statement in our email, which prompted me to take a closer look at your expenses. For the past two months, she spent an average of $ 100 a day on cosmetics. After 60 days, her account was overdrawn and she'd spent $ 6,000. I informed her of my extreme displeasure and said that this behavior must absolutely stop.

Since then, she has been spending almost $ 1,000 a month and cutting it back because she only has an income of $ 1,000 and not the result of our previous discussion. In 7 months she spent nearly $ 11,000 on cosmetics.

I came from a thrifty, lower-middle-class family. My mother has a total of three lipsticks. My wife has over 125 lipsticks that cost $ 15-30 each and she keeps buying more. She spends 100% of her free time watching teenagers with $ 100,000 cosmetic collections play with makeup on YouTube
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She makes $ 12.50 an hour at a bookstore, and my brain is briefly trying to figure out how someone with that income can justify spending tens of thousands a year on cosmetics.

The largest expenditure in the household

It is to the point where their cosmetic expenses are the largest expenses of our household, exceeding our vehicles and homes. In the meantime, I'm single-handedly keeping us afloat.

I am just exhausted. I have worked, planned, saved and lived under my means all my life in order to achieve financial independence and enable my household to have a comfortable life. I am maximizing our two IRAs and am the only contributor to our other long-term retirement goals. I am offended and disgusted with the amount of money that is being spent on cosmetics.

I have been patient and have tried many times to approach her. She raises her voice very quickly and speaks on me to control the narration and prevent me from finishing my sentences. She just swears to double up. I just can't get through to her. We urgently need couples therapy, but they absolutely refuse to recognize the problem or participate in any solution.

I am very frustrated. I thought I would marry a teammate to tackle life's problems and goals together. However, my wife only contributes extreme liabilities. My patience is extremely thin. What should I do?

With best regards,

team player

Dear team player,

First, budgeting: your wife makes you the marital equivalent of a warm cup of tea. She plays with the budget up to a point so the entire experience just tastes so bad that you can finally give up and take care of it yourself.

And now the cosmetics and jewelry: the proverbial cup of tea is hot, and the closer you get to it, the greater the risk of scalding yourself. It is a restricted area and you approach it at your own risk. This threatens your wife in some way, the question is how and why.

She is not ready to give up this part of her life. Marriage is about compromise, of course, but your wife gets some of these jewelry and cosmetics. Whatever fulfills this addiction requires constant replenishment. It can't end until your wife realizes what it's about.

The question is how sustainable is this type of financial isolationism. She fulfills her needs on her own while you keep the rest of the household budget and planning afloat. You could go on like this for months or years. The question is, how long do you want to do this?

You know what you want: your wife needs to stop buying things she doesn't need and act like she is not responsible for anyone but herself. But the question is, what if she continues to spend that kind of money, relying on you to take care of her retirement and everything else?

No more relief for her compulsive shopping. If she doesn't have the money to pay off the credit cards, you have to intervene. Depositing money into her accounts so she can spend thousands of dollars on cosmetics she will never use must end. You should both be responsible for how household money is used.

Compulsive shopping

Here is a snapshot of "Advances in Psychiatric Treatment" on compulsive shopping, indicating attempts to escape from deep-seated fears and anxieties. "Most compulsive shoppers buy goods that are of little or no use to them and feel a sense of relaxation after the fact," the authors write.

It can happen anytime. “The behavior can be chronic and shop frequently. Unlike normal shoppers, who usually plan and calculate their budget before actually shopping, compulsive shoppers respond to their impulses without prior planning, ”the researchers write.

"Obsessive-compulsive shoppers often suffer from poor self-esteem and distress, and often suffer from comorbid conditions like anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, other impulse control disorders, and personality disorders," they add.

This is a black, white, and red situation. With the intervention of a counselor and / or financial therapist, you can turn your wife's finances back into reality so she can see them in black and white. Then show her where the red line is for you, your relationship, and your marriage.

Tell her how you feel about it and what you think she is saying about your life. Use a chart to show her how much is being spent on jewelry / cosmetics versus food, housing, and transportation, and how this jeopardizes the chances of you having a comfortable life together, if not your retirement.

Because that would be an intervention. Just like gambling or alcohol or sex or food or drugs, shopping can be an addiction and it risks losing your respect and love. It offers your wife an escape. To forget somewhere. The question is, what is she escaping from?

You can email The Moneyist at qfottrell@marketwatch.com with all financial and ethical issues related to coronavirus and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

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